How Long Should You Blame Your Childhood?

Once again, my 54-year-old mother did the indefensible. When challenged, she gleefully blamed it on her childhood.

People use childhood as yet another form of determinism.

It has all been decided in their formative years. And there are no more formative years, no formative experiences, there is absolutely nothing to life after 18.

The world must accept it and stop asking them to make an effort. It’s childhood’s fault. We know why it happens, so we have an excuse – so we’re done here.

The idea of childhood as the sacred source of victimhood and grievances had been implanted by outdated psychologists – and perpetuated by therapists trying to keep patients in therapy forever. Childhood cannot be overcome, you see? We can only keep working on it, but it’s hopeless. It will always be with you. It will always determine you. It will always be to blame.

And no one has ever questioned it. Why?

Because it is comfortable this way.

It’s OK that you don’t even try. Give up. Capitulate. Pay for more therapy. Do anything, but don’t force this growing up and taking responsibility.

The world must step aside in reverence in the face of the sacred suffering of your childhood. At last, it is over. Takes the rest of your life to process it. How convenient. Nothing commands more respect (or silences more criticism) than the sacred determinism of childhood traumas.

My mother speaks English but it’s not in her interest to admit it. So I won’t give her this book.

Most theories of personality claim that childhood is powerful and that emotional traits are likewise strong. My theory denies both of these assumptions. There is no premise here about early learning being strong. My theory says that it does not matter when problems, habits, and personality are acquired;

— Martin Seligman – What You Can Change … and What You Can’t

In other words, childhood influences, but doesn’t determine you. But there is no evidence to support the catchy notion of all-determining childhood. If anything, we are doing this to ourselves. We self-enforce, because we believe in the mystical power of childhood.

We just built up this reverence for it, we look at it helplessly for clues for the present. We pretend that nothing ever happens that could override it. Definitely not our own determination and free will. The first few years determine the next few decades – don’t fight it. In fact, we are kinda pointless here, just acting out from their scripts.

We don’t get to choose our personality, our moods, our reactions, our actions, not even our thoughts and opinions. It has all been decided when we were all still stardust. So why try to change it – let’s just beat each other with it.

Some influences are stronger than others. Some are positive, others not so much. Their heritage is always mixed.

But not trying to grow above your childhood is a choice. Don’t try to wish it away.

Some pretend they are not to be expected to grow above it. But even they have double standards and expect others to do so. No one wants to live in a world where nothing is up for improvement.

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